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Culture / Newsy

Now Hear This — The Real Dallas Issues that Candidates Running for Mayor Should be Confronting

Our Platforms Address Everything From Homelessness to Flat Tires

BY // 02.08.19

The Dallas mayoral election is upon us. Hopefully your calendar is marked to go out and vote on May 4th. In honor of the race, for this week’s Now Hear This, I felt like it would be fun to ask all of my PaperCity Dallas teammates the question: If you were running for mayor, what would your platform be?

The staff opens up about their ideas, and the ever passionate Lisa Collins Shaddock takes this opportunity to share some of the insights she has garnered from recently hearing two community leaders speak to their visions for the future of our great city.

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor in Chief

I have always thought of myself as a much better first lady than the person standing front and center. 

It’s a hard job, if you really think about it. First ladies must be a quick study when it comes to international cultures, manners and other societal nuances; they must have extreme poise and a solid sense of style, all while embodying a certain level of accessibility; they must use their position to further a charitable platform; and they must have impeccable taste, able to select appropriate China patterns and such for the White House. 

Not to mention, they are often the real brains behind the man “technically” running the show. (Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman could not be a more truthful statement.)

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Laura Bush made a major impact as First Lady, focusing on causes that could make a tangible difference.

In fact I’d go so far as to say, when we have our first female president, the position of First Lady of the United States should be one I could run for. First Man or First Gentleman just doesn’t have the same ring (or panache) to it. Perhaps I should start campaigning.

But, I digress. 

If I were to ever enter the political realm, my most passionate platform would be homelessness. 

I’ve had a strong urge to serve the homeless community since my childhood. I remember hatching business plans in my head as a pre-teen that, I thought, would aim to create effective work programs for the homeless. 

Every year, my family and I would cook a half-dozen turkeys at Thanksgiving for the Union Station homeless shelter in Pasadena, California. We’d serve during the organization’s Christmas and Thanksgiving community dinners. 

In 2010, I helped launch Echelon in Dallas, The Salvation Army’s young professionals auxiliary, which now has dozens of chapters across the country. It was during my hands-on work at the Carr P. Collins Center that I really got a taste for the complexities surrounding Dallas’ homeless population. 

There is no one-fell-swoop approach to solving the problem. But there is one thing we can all do: Look people in the eye — especially the homeless person you pass by on the street. 

You see, when a person first becomes homeless they immediately lose all sense of confidence because other people simply stop treating them like human beings. We stop looking at them. We treat them like stray animals, not like humans. 

The destruction of self-esteem and the psychological trauma that ensues the moment someone becomes homeless, I would argue, is one of the biggest barriers preventing homeless people from assimilating back into society. 

It’s easy to forget that we all exist with the same human frailties — and learning that we aren’t much different than the homeless person down the street was probably the most life-changing thing I will ever experience.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

We are so fortunate in Dallas to have a number of incredibly impressive individuals who dedicate their time and considerable strengths to serving the community. An essential part of this is understanding the community’s needs.

In the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to hear about some of our city’s most pressing needs directly from two of these such individuals. Both are women I look to as role models for their deep understanding of these challenges and their drive to do what it takes to address them. 

The first is Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support. At the Genesis Young Leaders board meeting earlier this week, Jan overviewed some of the policy initiatives the Texas Council on Family Violence is working to pass, including requiring necessary details about domestic violence convictions be entered into a database in order to better protect survivors; ensuring that firearm laws are enforced for family violence offenders; and offering early detection and response training for law enforcement. 

The other is current mayoral candidate Lynn McBee, who spoke at a recent Junior League of Dallas meeting along with fellow JLD sustainer Caren Prothro about how they have created real change in the city of Dallas, including playing integral roles in the development of the Arts District.

Lynn discussed a number of issues she is actively tackling, including the child poverty situation in Dallas. I was shocked to learn that we are ranked third in the nation and that one in three children in our city lives in poverty. Lynn encouraged everyone to take action and learn more by visiting the Child Poverty Action Lab website

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

Last fall, I chatted with Jessica Burnham, an expert in community-based design and director of the Master of Arts in Design and Innovation (MADI) program at Southern Methodist University. She shared that in the 10 years she has called Dallas home she has seen a renewed commitment to a dialogue with those representing diversity.

I’d like to make every effort for our city to be a welcoming and truly diverse community. It would be wonderful to see more festivals celebrating Greek heritage (especially since I love the food) or more dragon parades during Chinese New Year.

I initially went to graduate school to study Art History with a focus on public art. I would love to see art woven more fluidly into our landscape. Having lived in New York City, I have always appreciated the fact that I could stand on a subway platform and be exposed to a whimsical or thought-provoking mural or sculpture as I waited for my train.

I would love it if when taking a walk through town I might be surprised by a work of art as I turned the corner. Dallas could benefit from having a higher walkability score as it would draw more companies to set-up shop in our city or generate more tourists.

Dallas should strive to become a more walkable city.

Hillery Stack, Dallas Publisher

My husband and I have had more flat tires since moving to Dallas then we have ever experienced in our whole lives. I would have to say that revitalizing the city’s infrastructure would be my main focus.

Linda Kenney, Account Manager, Dallas

My mayoral platform would include a plan for Dallas’ public schools. I have a dear friend who teaches at Booker T. Washington High School and have seen firsthand how this exemplary high school prepares students for further study in a creative environment. Thriving creative schools produce students that are kind and successful adults. The world needs more of them — let’s begin here.

Samantha Olguin, Sales Account Director and Director of Business Development, Dallas

If I were running for mayor, one of my platforms would no doubt be the homeless population. Not sure why, but this is my thing, my soft spot. As a volunteer at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, I see firsthand the typically loving and optimistic demeanor of these people. Serving breakfast and hearing them say “Thank you for serving me,” when really I feel thankful I am able to serve them, is one of the many reasons my heart is drawn to this cause. 

In a perfect world, every willing homeless person would have a place to go and a team to help them strategize how to get their lives back on track. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and I am not running for Mayor, so that’s just my food for thought. 

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Manager

Something I am really passionate about is the fight against human trafficking. It is such a large issue around the world, especially in big cities like Dallas. There are lots of amazing groups that work against this form of modern-day slavery, but it’s important for the government on all levels to get involved as well. If I were running for mayor, this would be a key issue that I’d like to focus on and create change during my time in office.

If you ever have something you want our team to address, shoot us your thoughts via social media or email (@papercitydallas on Instagram; facebook.com/papercitymagdallas on Facebook; or yours truly, billy@papercitymag.com). Or, better yet send a message to the office, handwritten on the Smythson stationery of your choice — and feel free to include a bottle of Veuve. Champagne really helps get the ideas flowing.

Look for the next installment of Now Hear This from Billy Fong next week.

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